Soul Sacrifice is due to be revealed on a conference on May 10th in Japan, an event they teased with a trailer showing a snippet of gameplay footage. Unsurprisingly, however, the game was actually revealed via Famitsu magazine before it could happen, with a seven page feature to boot. The question on the minds of everyone who saw the teaser site was what kind of game it would be, since it gave very few clues. I posted a speculation piece of what it could be, where I said it could either be a new handheld Souls game from From Software, a dark Monster Hunter clone from Sony, or (jokingly, I admit) a new game in the vein of Lord of Arcana/Apocalypse from Access Games and Square Enix.
The winner? Well, the second hypothesis is the closest to being correct. Remember when Keiji Inafune said he was working on a Playstation Vita title at GDC and during the first Playstation Vita Game Heaven? It turns out this is that project. This will apparently be Inafune’s first big post-Capcom project. Planning for the game was handled by Inafune’s new company, Comcept, while Marvelous AQL is handling development. In case you didn’t know, Marvelous AQL (aka AQ Interactive; “AQ” meaning “Artistic Quality”) was formed with the remnants of three development houses: Artoon, feelplus, and Cavia. They also own North American publisher XSeed Games. This game is presumably being handled by whatever’s left of feelplus, since it has their style -- which is especially present in the Shadow Hearts-esque monster design. Sony is publishing and funding it.
art portrayed this as a rather dark title, sure, but no one was prepared for how dark and grotesque it could be.
Famitsu posted a
plethora of screen shots and artwork on their website, and it looks as if
someone wanted to give God of War a
run for its money in how grotesque a game could be. If you can’t stomach the sight of, for example, a character pulling out
his spine to use it as a sword, I would recommend NOT clicking on the link
above. You have been warned.
The story is that your player character is a slave for an intolerably cruel sorcerer who starts off locked away in a dungeon, prepared for a sacrifice. While locked away, a mysterious object known as the Golam Book appears before the character, which turns out to be a demon in disguise. It offers to let them experience the story within, depicting past battles between sorcerers and monsters. Those battles are game’s quests, which can be played with one-to-four players simultaneously. As the pictures at the top of this post show, you can choose to play as a male or female, with further customization options available.
The characters must make sacrifices in order to use powerful magic. This can involve inanimate objects lying in the background like sticks and stones (because they’ll break the bones of your opponents, you see!). But to use big magic, you’ll have to perform some self-mutilation. This is where the aforementioned “pull out your spine for a sword” aspect comes in. You also have the option of chopping of your fingers to perform and extended punch, pulling out your eyeballs to blast magic beams, and using your bones and nerves to attack. If you mutilate your body too much, you’ll become disfigured. Yes, it’s quite disgusting.
This is an interesting tone they’ve chosen to go with for this game, because it’s definitely going to get a “Z” rating from CERO if the actual game is as violent as the descriptions. CERO is Japan’s video game ratings group, the equivalent of our ESRB and Europe’s PEGI. A Z-rated game is the equivalent of an Adults Only game here, meaning it can’t be displayed on retail shelves. Z-rated games have progressively become less taboo there, but putting one out is still a risky move unless it’s a rather niche title. And that’s part of what makes this game so interesting.
Soul Sacrifice hits Vita in Japan this winter, and it’s highly likely that it will get a western release. Stay tuned for the Japanese conference if you want to see some supposedly significant gameplay footage. This post will be updated with the trailer tomorrow morning, Eastern Standard Time.
Here's the first trailer. This is one of the rare instances where the teaser trailer had more gameplay footage than the full one. That's disappointing, but someone captured off-screen footage of the single-player mode and provided a lengthy multiplayer gameplay video. Note that game itself doesn't look quite as violent as the concept art would have you believe.